The butlers did it

What kind of amenities does it take for a new luxury hotel in downtown Los Angeles to woo the kind of affluent clientele that would sooner frequent one of the many elite properties located in the sanctuary of outer suburbia?

Room Service

Maybe it’s a list of posh delights fit for a king: four motion picture theaters, health club, tennis and racquetball facilities, personalized wake-up service, multi-lingual concierge, 24-hour room-service, triple-sheeted beds and a bathroom one could live in with imported marble, telephone, AM/FM stereo sound, imported soaps and lotions beautifully packaged with the hotel’s bird of paradise logo, bath sheets the size of beach towels loofa sponge, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream and razor, large shoe horn and sewing kit.

All very impressive. But, the crowning glory for the year-old 470-room Sheraton Grande hotel is that each floor boasts a personal butler ready to meet every guest’s personal needs from shoe shines to party planning.

From the moment a guest steps into the hotel’s main lobby, he or she is met by a bellman who introduces he guest to the head butler for the shift. On the way to their rooms, guests are informed of the unique service in greater detail. After the guest has settled into his room, the floor butler will stop by to introduce himself and present a plush robe and ice, capping off the elaborate amenities presentation. He will turn down the guest’s bed at night and offer coffee, tea and newspaper in the morning. In addition, each of the ten floors is equipped with a fully-stocked butler’s pantry to take care of all those special needs such as pants pressing, shoe shines and refrigeration of a guest’s food items or special medications.

And… make the service totally accessible to the guest, each butler is equipped with a portable Cobra phone. The guest need only enter two digits on his room phone to instantly contact his butler. No need to go through an operator to relay a message back to the butler.

“The major feature of this hotel is its service style,” relates Robert Foster, general manager of The Sheraton Grande. “Butlers are a first for Los Angeles and for Sheraton hotels worldwide,” he claims. “Every guest here is treated the same at an extremely high level of service.” Room rates range from $135 for a standard accommodation to $550 for the deluxe California suite.

To provide the butler service requires an annual investment in salary, uniforms and supplies of half-a-million dollars. With occupancy rates in the mid to upper 70’s, Foster looks for the butlers to provide the hotel its major ammunition against its competition. His philosophy: “The best customer we have for the future is the one we have today.”